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Holy Spirit Interactive: Vatican II: Blessed Pope John XXIII: 1881 -1963

Blessed Pope John XXIII: 1881 -1963


1881 in Sotto il Monte, Italy as Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli

Papal Ascension

28 October 1958


3 September 2000 by Pope John Paul II @ Saint Peter's Square, Rome


3 June 1963 in Rome, Italy


Italian peasant. Educated at Bergamo and the Seminario Romano, Rome. Ordained in 1904. Secretary to the bishop of Bergamo from 1904 to 1914, during which he wrote the basis for his 5-volume biography of Saint Charles Borromeo. Served in World War I in the medical corps, and as a chaplain. Worked in Rome after the war, and reorganized the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Archbishop in 1925. Vatican diplomatic representative to Bulgaria, then Turkey, and Greece. Named papal nuncio to France in 1944 where he mediated between conservative and socially radical clergy. Cardinal and patriarch of Venice in 1953. Elected pope on 28 October 1958.

As pope, he stressed his own pastoral duties as well as those of other bishops and clergy. Promoted social reforms for workers, poor people, orphans, and the outcast. He advanced cooperation with other religions including Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Church of England, and even Shinto. In April 1959, he forbade Catholics to vote for parties supporting Communism. His encyclical Mater et Magistra of 14 July 1961 advocated social reform, assistance to underdeveloped countries, a living wage for all workers, and support for socialist measures that promised real benefit to society.

He nearly doubled the number of cardinals, making the college the largest in history. On 25 January 1959, he announced his intent to call a council to consider ways to renew the Church in the modern world, promote diversity within the unity of the Church, and consider reforms promoted by ecumenical and liturgical movements. Convening the council, known as Vatican II, on 11 October 1962, was the high point of his reign.

His heartiness, his overflowing love for humanity individually and collectively, and his freshness of approach to ecclesiastical affairs made John one of the best-loved popes of modern times.

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